CLDF has contributed to a major report published today (September 14) by Public Health England which makes specific recommendations on the treatment and prevention of liver disease in children and young people.

The Atlas of Variation in Risk Factors and Healthcare for Liver Disease in England has included data on childhood liver disease for the first time. And whilst its incidence is comparatively rare, with 1000 children diagnosed each year in the UK, its prevalence is increasing for two reasons:

  • children are surviving longer from congenital liver disease.
  • the increasing incidence of lifestyle related liver disease in children.

The report makes several recommendations which echo CLDF’s own campaigns:

  • Primary and community healthcare professionals need to be trained to recognise the key symptoms and signs of a liver condition in newborn babies and refer to CLDF’s Yellow Alert resources. This needs to be accompanied by public awareness campaigns on the same issue.
  • Commissioners need to ensure that referral pathways for children and young people diagnosed with liver disease, to one of the three designated national centres are in place and that local paediatricians have adequate support for appropriate local management of children and young people with liver disease.
  • To prevent vertical transmission of hepatitis B, commissioners need to specify that service providers follow NICE guidance regarding the care of pregnant and breastfeeding women with hepatitis B and the immunisation of newborn babies at risk from the mother’s hepatitis B infection.
  • Commissioners need to specify that public health agencies and service providers, particularly in primary care and school settings, follow NICE guidance on the identification, assessment and management of obesity and lifestyle services for weight management in children and young people.

CLDF Chief Executive, Alison Taylor, one of the co-authors of the report, commented:

“We are delighted that childhood liver disease has been included in the Atlas for the first time and fully endorse these recommendations. Some positive steps have already been taken. For example, following years of lobbying by CLDF and other charities, hepatitis B is now to be included in the universal infant immunisation programme; our Yellow Alert campaign with health professionals is ongoing and in 2018 we shall be targeting the wider public.

“We cannot be complacent, however. Through our network of families we shall continue to monitor whether appropriate referral pathways are in place for children and young people with liver disease and to gather feedback on their experience of transition to adult services. And as part of the Obesity Health Alliance we shall follow and support all efforts to assess and manage childhood obesity as it is vital that we do all we can to halt the rise in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.”

The full report can be downloaded from the Public Health England website.